How To Make A Vegan Chocolate Cake With Ingredients You Already Have

Lauren Toyota’s decadent layer cake takes inspiration from Depression-era recipes, when eggs and butter were hard find.

Just because her diet is plant-based, that doesn’t mean hot for food blog’s Lauren Toyota eschews comfort food. In fact, she couldn’t live without it.

For Chatelaine’s new video series, Vegan It! with Lauren Toyota, the former MuchMusic VJ and current YouTube star demonstrates how to create vegan versions of everyone’s favourite comfort classics — like grilled cheese and caesar salad — without elaborate recipes or compromising on taste. Find more of Lauren’s awesome recipes on her blog, her YouTube channel and her upcoming cookbook, Vegan Comfort Classics.

In this episode: Lauren makes a rich and moist chocolate cake.

Making it decadent: Cocoa powder is completely vegan, so there’s no need to find a substitution for this essential chocolate cake ingredient. When working with cocoa powder, Lauren (like many bakers) says to sift it. This helps prevent lumps and will keep your batter nice and fluffy.

lauren toyota vegan it
Watch the entire Vegan It! series here

Making it sweet: Lauren notes that some granulated sugar brands use animal bone char as a decolourizing filter to turn the sugar white. However, many common Canadian brands, such as Redpath, do not.

Making it moist and fluffy: Lauren doesn’t use a vegan egg replacement. Instead, her cake is based off recipes used during the Great Depression and the two World Wars when expensive ingredients, such as eggs and butter, were hard to come by. Forgoing pricey products, these recipes (and Lauren’s) use vinegar and baking soda as leavening agents, while the oil keeps everything moist.

Extras: No chocolate cake is complete without chocolate buttercream frosting. To create a vegan version of this dairy-filled cake topper, Lauren simply swaps out cow’s milk for soy milk and the usual butter for vegan butter. She uses Earth Balance butter, but any brand will do the trick.

Classic Chocolate Cake

Makes: 1 double-layer, 7-to-8-inch cake

Prep time: 55 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes



  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup plus 2⁄3 cup all- purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1⁄3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1⁄3 cup vegetable oil, or 1⁄3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 1 cup vegan butter, cubed and chilled
  • 1⁄2 cup Dutch- processed cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons soy milk
  • 31⁄2 to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Rainbow sprinkles, for decorating


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare both cake pans by spreading a thin layer of vegan butter on the inside bottom and sides, and then dust with an even coating of flour to help easily remove cake from the pans. Alternatively, you could trace the bottom of the cake pan on parchment paper and cut out a circle. Place on the bottom of the greased pan.
  3. In a bowl combine the soy milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside to thicken and curdle.
  4. In a large bowl sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. If making the chocolate cake, include the cocoa.
  5. Once the soy milk mixture has thickened, combine it with the sugar, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract and stir to combine well.
  6. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold with a spatula, scraping the edges a few times as you go until the batter is just combined. Do not over mix. Small lumps in the batter are fine, but you shouldn’t see pockets of dry ingredients that aren’t incorporated.
  7. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and spread out evenly with a spatula. Slightly shake the pan back and forth to even out the batter.
  8. Bake the cakes on the middle rack for 14 minutes and check if a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean at this point. They may be done at 14 minutes, or depending on the thickness of the cakes, it could take 15 to 18 minutes. Remove the cake pans onto wire racks and let cool for 10 minutes. To remove the cakes, place the wire rack on top of the cake pan and flip it upside down. Remove the parchment paper from the bottom if you used that. Let cakes cool completely before frosting and assembling.
  9. For the buttercream icing, whip the cold butter in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer or food processor until fluffy and smooth.
  10. Add the cocoa and continue whipping. Then add the vanilla extract. While continuing to whip add 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar and then 1 tablespoon of the soy milk. Once incorporated, continue whipping while you add the remaining sugar and soy milk a little bit at a time until the buttercream is fluffy, soft, and spreadable.
  11. If not using the buttercream right away, store at room temperature in an airtight container or cover with plastic wrap. For storage longer than 24 hours, refrigerate the buttercream; allow it to come to room temperature before using. You might need to add a small amount of liquid to smooth out the frosting before spreading.
  12. To frost a double layer cake, place the first cake layer bottom side down on your serving tray or platter. Using an icing spatula, generously frost the top surface out to the edges of the cake. The frosting should be no more than 3⁄8- inch thick.
  13. Place the second cake layer top side down so you now have a flat surface for the top of the cake. Use remaining frosting to frost the entire outside of the cake. Decorate with rainbow sprinkles or as desired. Serve the same day as baking and frosting for best results. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge or at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. If refrigerated, let cake sit at room temperature before consuming to take the chill off.

Watch: Make it Fancy: Cupcakes

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